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Learning to Embrace the Changes

Learning to Embrace the Changes

Council Corner: Learning to Embrace the Changes

By Jean-Marie Caterina, Town Council

Change is a funny thing. It is inevitable in one’s life and yet as humans we resist it with every ounce of our being. Change makes us uncomfortable. It evokes a fear of the unknown. But, when handled correctly, it is the catalyst for the better.

I was born in Portland and raised in South Portland. I spent my kindergarten year in a K-3 two room schoolhouse in South Portland Heights as the Hamlin School was built. Ocean Street was considered a busy street. It was so busy that we had a crossing guide at the corner of Ocean and Sawyer to make sure we made it across safely to school. I suppose one could say I grew up in suburbia as it was experienced in Maine of the late 50’s and 60's.

In the mid 60’s, my best friend Deb moved to Pleasant Hill in Scarborough. I was horrified! Not only was I losing a friend, but she was moving to a poky little farm town in a new development that was built in the middle of farmland. How would she ever survive? She did. And not only did she survive, but her neighborhood was built out and became a “premier neighborhood” in real estate parlance. It is now a well established and well loved area of town. But at the time, what a travesty it was to take away farmland to build houses!

Fast forward to 1988 when I reluctantly moved to my husband’s grandparent’s farm. The corner at Payne Road consisted of some old farmhouses. There was no Sam’s, no Shaw’s, nothing at the intersection. It took some getting used to being so far out. Gradually, over the next few years, with careful planning, the Payne Road corridor was built out and I realized that, indeed, my home was perfectly situated to reach any and all amenities I might desire. The only downside being that 114 has way too much traffic at commute times, a situation that should be remedied by the Turnpike Bypass.

So, why do I write? Yes, Scarborough is growing. Yes, traffic has increased since my time here. The good news is that we have a carefully thought out growth plan that limits growth to certain areas of town. Developers who build in those areas must mitigate increases to traffic. We value our rural areas and limit development in them. We work hand in hand with the Scarborough Land Trust to preserve important ecosystems. (They can use your donations, too, if you want to help permanently preserve land.) Can you imagine? What would what happen if we did not have those controls in place?

Yes, Scarborough has changed. It has changed tremendously in my lifetime. Yet, it has been controlled change leading to a broad diversity of land uses. This diversity has allowed us to build value as a town which, in turn, leads to one of the lowest tax rates in the area. We have a fabulous school system and a sense of community unusual for a municipality of our size. We have the marsh and beaches, and the rural areas west of the turnpike. Let’s embrace it all. Let’s embrace guardrails that preserve this diversity, yet allow for change.

Former President John F. Kennedy said it best. “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Scarborough Town Council.